Bangladesh government’s grants in film sector goes into ashtray

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Bangladesh government’s grants in film sector goes into ashtray as in most cases wrong people or people with political or otherwise influence manage getting the grant for making movies despite the fact, majority of these recipients either indulge in misusing the fund or they fail to make expected use of the grand money due to lack of required experience.

In recent times, the film industry in Bangladesh has been grappling with controversies and challenges related to government grants. While these grants are intended to promote creativity, talent, and the production of meaningful films, allegations of nepotism, political influence, and corruption have cast a shadow over the system. This has led to a growing discontent among filmmakers who feel that deserving talents are being deprived of opportunities, ultimately damaging the cinema industry.

Government-funded films have been accused of succumbing to nepotism, political influence, and high-level lobbying, diverting resources away from deserving individuals within the film industry. The perception that grants are being awarded based on personal connections rather than merit has fueled frustration among filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts alike. Despite the government’s financial support for creative, liberation war-based, and life-oriented films, there is a prevailing sense that the grants system is marred by corruption.

One of the main concerns raised by stakeholders in the film industry is the lack of transparency in the grant allocation process. The allegations suggest that incompetent and politically motivated individuals, who may not have any background in filmmaking, are receiving grants while genuine talents are overlooked. The misuse of political influence, especially by those close to influential figures such as Members of Parliament and ministers, has further exacerbated the problem.

The controversies surrounding government grants have led to a decline in the morale of filmmakers, discouraging them from actively participating in the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC). The film industry, which plays a crucial role in reflecting the cultural aspirations of the nation, is at risk of losing its identity and significance due to these issues.

The government’s grant system, initiated in 1976 to encourage talent and creativity, experienced a hiatus before being reinstated in the fiscal year 2007-2008. Despite the government’s efforts to support the film industry, recent allegations of irregularities and opaque practices have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the grant system.

One of the stipulations for government grants is that the funded film must be completed within nine months of receiving the first grant cheque. However, there are allegations that some individuals are taking advantage of this provision, stretching the production timeline for years. This has resulted in a lack of accountability for filmmakers who fail to deliver on their commitments within the specified timeframe.

The Bangladesh Film Board has repeatedly drawn attention to these irregularities, urging the government to take corrective measures. Filmmakers who spoke anonymously expressed their anger, emphasizing that corrupt practices, fueled by political motivations, are jeopardizing the film industry and hindering the aspirations of genuine talents.

Several instances of misappropriation of government grant money in the last decade have been reported. Despite media coverage exposing these cases, the lack of legal action against the perpetrators has raised questions about the effectiveness of the oversight and accountability mechanisms within the government.

Even after the demise of a producer allegedly involved in embezzling government grants, calls for action against living corrupt individuals within the cinema industry have gone unanswered. This lack of accountability has further fueled discontent among filmmakers and industry professionals who seek justice for the misappropriation of public funds.

The issue of nepotism and political influence in grant allocations came to the forefront when an emerging producer, Jennifer Ferdous, received a government grant for a movie titled ‘Aashirbaad’ in the financial year 2020-21. The grant raised eyebrows as allegations surfaced that Jennifer had not utilized the entire amount and lacked prior experience in film production. The involvement of political influence in securing the grant added to the skepticism surrounding the transparency of the process.

Similarly, renowned actor Shakib Khan receiving a grant of BDT 6.5 million in the financial year 2021-22 led to questions about the necessity of government support for someone already financially solvent. The whispers and speculations surrounding the circumstances of such grants highlight the need for a thorough and impartial evaluation process.

Industry insiders have expressed their frustration with the existing grant system. FI Manik, a producer, emphasized the importance of a good story and experienced filmmakers in utilizing grant funds effectively. He called for the formation of an impartial grant committee to ensure transparency and proper utilization of resources, urging the government to reconsider its approach to grant allocation.

Mushfiqur Rahman Gulzar, another industry professional, insisted that the ongoing controversies and corruption associated with grants must be addressed promptly. He highlighted the need for an honest and qualified grant committee to restore faith in the system. Without such measures, the film industry may continue to suffer from irregularities and lose its credibility.

Giyas Uddin Salim emphasized the necessity of a strong and constructive policy to bring transparency to the grant system. He argued that policies alone are insufficient without honest administration and enforcement of laws. To positively impact the cinema industry’s growth and development, a comprehensive strategy is needed to identify deserving recipients and prevent the misuse of government funds.

The challenges and controversies surrounding government grants in the Bangladesh cinema industry are threatening the very essence of creativity and talent that the grants are meant to nurture. The lack of transparency, allegations of corruption, and the influence of political figures in grant allocations are eroding the industry’s identity. Urgent measures, including the establishment of an impartial grant committee and a robust policy framework, are essential to restore faith in the grant system and ensure the sustained growth of the Bangladesh cinema industry.

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